Guitar skills and leadership propel Reading teenager to Olivet club’s Youngster of the Year award

April 8—Twyla Ewen was 7 years old when she first walked into the Olivet Boys & Girls Club of Reading and Berks County with a small purple guitar she hoped to learn to play.

Ewen is now 16 and still an Olivet regular who has come a long way not only with her musical talents, but also as a student and model.

As a result, Ewen was recently named Olivet’s 2022 Youth of the Year after being chosen through the leadership recognition program designed by Boys & Girls Club of America.

The award highlights outstanding teen club members who exemplify healthy lifestyles, academic excellence, good character, and leadership, and is the highest honor members can achieve.

Ewen, who was one of Olivet’s three finalists, is in Grade 11 at Reading High School and attends the performance-level guitar course held at Olivet’s Center for the Arts. She also sings and plays the flute and the piano.

It’s her guitar playing that stands out the most, however, and she was recently selected as a finalist by the Boys & Girls Club of America’s National Talent Search. She will attend the organization’s national conference in Chicago later this year.

Ewen, who has accompanied her sister Malia to Olivet since she was little, is grateful for all the advice she has received from club staff over the years.

“Before, I was very nervous to perform in front of people, but I came out of that shell, and now I love performing,” she said. “They helped me a lot.”

Ewen also plays volleyball for several traveling teams, takes advanced level courses at school, is a member of the National Honor Society, is an active member of the church, and volunteers with several local organizations.

Her goal is to attend Yale University and become a dermatologist.

In her essay and presentation to Olivet for the award, she highlighted the importance of self-care and mental health awareness, which motivates her to want to become a dermatologist.

“Everyone should be confident in their own skin, and I want to help people with that,” she said.

As the winner of Olivet’s Youth of the Year, at the end of April she will participate in the Pennsylvania State Youth of the Year Pageant in Harrisburg where she will compete with teens from other local Boys & Girls Club organizations.

Olivet serves nearly 3,000 members a year at 10 locations in Reading, Robesonia and Shillington, and its goal is to help young people realize their potential as healthy, caring, productive and responsible citizens.

Ewen embodies that mission, Olivet officials said.

“Twyla’s beautiful voice and musical talent, her academic achievement, and her involvement in the club and local community are a shining example of Boys & Girls Club America’s initiatives in academic excellence, healthy living, and good character/citizenship,” said Chris Winters, President. and CEO. “We are so proud of his accomplishments.”

“Twyla has been a dedicated CFA member since 2012. In fact, I can’t remember a Wednesday during the school year when Twyla wasn’t at CFA, with her guitar in her hand,” said Richard Bradbury, director of the PAL Center for Olivet. Arts. “His parents, Richard and Mary-Ann, are so loving and supportive and have stood by him every step of the way in Olivet’s youth of the year process.”

Ewen’s growth shows the importance of an arts education in creating smart, confident young women, Bradbury said.

“Twyla’s confidence and charming personality will stand her in good stead as she heads into the national final,” he added.